MUSIC LIVE REVIEWS
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INES DE CASTRO
Earlier than usual, and in response to
increased demand, Scottish Opera tour
to Edinburgh this month. Bringing two productions (Mozart’s Idomeneo in its fresh interpretation by David McVicar and a concert performance of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers), the others in this winter’s repertoire can be seen in the customary llovember week. So it is not until then that James MacMillan’s powerful Inés de Castro can be heard again at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, the venue which hosted its premiere as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. But if you can’t wait, the Theatre lloyal in Glasgow beckons, and, in common with other Scottish press when the opera was unveiled, The list is also giving it a definite thumbs-up.
In a legend dating from the 14th century, Ines de Castro tells the tragic tale of the Spanish mistress of the Portugese Crown Prince, who, at a time of intense political tension, is executed and her children beheaded. As Prince Pedro assumes the role of King, after victorious battle with Spain, and learns of their fate, he
Skeleton cast at Scottish opera
becomes insane and insists on Inés’s corpse being his consort, to be graciously acknowledged by all, at the coronation.
Yes, it is gruesome and nothing is spared, Jacek Strauch being an exceptionally sinister and menacineg evil Pacheco, the weak old king’s adviser. In the combined forces of Jonathan Moore’s direction, Chris Dyer’s design and Paule Constable’s lighting, the opera is gripping in its darkness, the sort of black comedy provided by the executioner’s graphic description of his work doing nothing at all to lighten the load.
Musically, the opera is stunning, showing MacMillan, in his first opera, to be a supreme master of the orchestral palette and a composer for whom the stage is now offering unlimited potential. Touches such as the women’s washing song, or the opening Stabat Mater, all seem to echo the agony and pain of the fate of Inés, marvellously sung and portrayed by Helen Field. Go and see it. (Carol Main) lne’s de Castro, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Fri 25 Oct, Sat 2, Thurs 7 Nov; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 20 Nov.
IE— 3 COLOURS RED
Cafhouse, Glasgow, 10 Oct.
Punk: what a load of old cobblers. To
most people under the age of 40, punk
is just a muddled collection of dated photographs and even more dated records. Sure, as in any movement, the original clarion calls still ring true, ! but there was oodles of utter dross as 5 well. However, the mighty punk ? revolution did scour away much of what was bloated and unacceptable in ' the music scene of the time, and for this we can be grateful.
llo, what’s debilitating about the legacy of punk is its effect on groups such as 3 Colours lied. They look pretty terrific. They sound awesome - huge tectonic plates of souped-up guitar riffage, rough-hewn melody (when they remember), and a kind of loutish intelligence that characterised The Clash in their heyday. Indeed, tonight’s set was delivered at almost terminal velocity, such assaults as ‘61 Smiles’ and ‘llerve Gas’ coming close to buckling under their own momentous pressure.
But even when enjoying 3 Colours lied’s (abysmal name, by the way) tumultuous set, you still have to ask questions. You begin to wonder why their obvious knack for a catchy melody has to be buried in oceans of chugging (literally, they go chug-chug- chug) guitar on every song. You begin to worry when their obviously inferior
‘Smlle for the camera. 0h, never mind’
punk two-chorders are aired to hysterical applause. You hope at any minute they aren’t going to stray into the risible power-pop territory of, say, The Wildhearts.
The strive for punkish ‘authenticity’ means all melodic quality is subsumed to the ‘honest’ one-chord blur, all subtlety (we don’t want a 4A!) band here, but a reduction in speed would be a start) crushed under the sweat- drenched lloc Marten’s of the imbecilic ninth generation punks slamming happily away down the front.
3 Colours lied are a fair enough rock hand, it’s just depressing that such obviously good potential is trapped in the attitudes of the past. (Phil Miller)
“The List l8-3l Oct I996